As the airplane of Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Tel Aviv on Thursday night, he received two striking reminders as to why his efforts to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are so essential. First, a planning committee, in an almost customary Israeli ‘welcome’ for such visits, has approved a plan to build an additional 69 housing units in the controversial East Jerusalem settlement of Har Homa. Second, the Israeli commander of the Central Command Major-General Nitzan Alon, warned that as the stalemate in the political process continues, an outbreak of violence in the occupied West Bank is increasingly likely and could potentially lead to a third Intifada.
If and when a third Intifada should outbreak, it would not be solely as a result of the Israeli occupation, but also due to the dire economic situation, the lack of progress in reaching a political solution, and the incompetence and mismanagement of Palestinian affairs by its own leadership.Yossi Mekelberg
Alternatively, one might argue that Israel is conducting its affairs in mysterious and contradictory ways with no long term strategy. Part of the answer to this is that Netanyahu, despite what some of his right wing critics in Israel say, has not changed ideologically, but negotiates for a two state solution on the basis of two main fears, the fear of international isolation and the fear of a bi-national state. He is fighting between his instinct and rationale. Instinctively he distrusts the Palestinian leadership, and everyone else for that matter, and he yearns to keep the West Bank under Israeli control both for historical and security reasons. His head tells him that the occupation is unsustainable in the long term, hence maintaining the occupation is not only compromising Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, but inevitably will lead to a new generation of disenchanted Palestinians to take to the streets.